The owner of five homes where severely retarded adults allegedly were sexually abused and neglected has reached an agreement with state regulators that will permanently close four of the homes and permit one to reopen under strict supervision.
Under the compromise, the state Department of Social Services this week revoked the licenses of four Machado Family Homes in Orange County and restored the license of the family's board-and-care facility in the Los Angeles County community of Cerritos.
State officials suspended licenses and temporarily closed all five facilities in June, after two young men were sexually molested, two patients scalded themselves in hot showers and two retarded women were impregnated, apparently by other patients.
The Machado homes are run by Maria Machado and her son, Norlan Machado Jr. No problems were found at a sixth Machado home in Torrance and it has remained open.
State regulators said some of the problems at the homes were linked to Norlan Machado. He is scheduled to stand trial April 20 in Orange County Superior Court on five counts of oral copulation and two counts of sexual assault, allegedly involving the two male patients at homes there.
The Machado homes in Torrance and Cerritos will operate for the next three years under probationary licenses. Without admitting guilt, the Machados agreed that:
- Norlan Machado will not visit either of the homes, as long as they are operated as facilities for the developmentally disabled.
- Maria Machado will not apply for three years to increase the capacity of the two homes, which are licensed to care for 23 patients.
- Retarded women at the homes will receive birth control pills.
- Officials from the state Department of Social Services will be granted ready access to the two homes for spot inspections and interviews with patients.
"There are unannounced site visits mandated by state law at least once a year," said Kathleen Norris, a spokeswoman for the state Department of Social Services. "We are not expecting any problems, but with a probationary situation we will be keeping track of it a little more stringently."
Ernest J. Franceschi Jr., the family's attorney, said Wednesday that the Machados still maintain their innocence and decided to compromise with the state Department of Social Services only to avoid further legal expenses.
Several weeks of hearings by the Department of Social Services last fall on the allegations against the Machado Family Homes "didn't prove anything," Franceschi said.